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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Electric Brewing > 4500w Element on two 110 outlets
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Old 11-09-2012, 07:17 PM   #1
ddahl84
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Default 4500w Element on two 110 outlets

So thinking about building a electric setup in my basement and at first I thought I needed to install a bunch of new 240 gfci breaker stuff. But since I'm really cheap and trying to figure out the easiest way of doing this, I was wondering if two 20 amp outlets on different poles hooked up to a 4500w element would work. I already have the outlets so all I would have to do is change them to gfci plugs. Wouldn't this work pretty much the same as a double pole 240 breaker?

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Old 11-09-2012, 07:34 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by ddahl84
So thinking about building a electric setup in my basement and at first I thought I needed to install a bunch of new 240 gfci breaker stuff. But since I'm really cheap and trying to figure out the easiest way of doing this, I was wondering if two 20 amp outlets on different poles hooked up to a 4500w element would work. I already have the outlets so all I would have to do is change them to gfci plugs. Wouldn't this work pretty much the same as a double pole 240 breaker?
The setup would be one Pid controlling a ssr and one pump. Much like all the BIAB setups found in the forum.
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Old 11-09-2012, 07:40 PM   #3
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You know if this is in your basement you should probably just run the correct wire, have the correct receptacles and be able to sleep good at night. Cost is like $100 maybe seems like a lot but then there's the what if factor...

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Old 11-09-2012, 07:57 PM   #4
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If the setup works from the pic attached wouldn't it work to just use line from plug 1 to a ssr then line from plug 2 to a contactor?
image-1723581204.jpg

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Old 11-09-2012, 08:28 PM   #5
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AC current has a frequency. That's the alternating part of AC. If I explain this correctly, 120v AC uses a single phase. It runs at 60Hz. It requires a neutral to complete the connection. With 240v, there are 2 120v lines, but they run in 2 phases which are 180 degrees from each other. There is no neutral. Since they are out of phase from each other, the opposite leg of each is the effective neutral. And because there are 2 legs there of 120v there is 240v.

Wiring 2 120v lines from the same circuit will likely overload the breaker for that circuit, be in the same phase and not produce the power you expect.
Wiring 2 120v from 2 separate circuits has a probability of not working because they might be fed from the same phase and thus not capable of producing 240v.

If you are considering using 240v for your ebrewery, you should really lay the foundation for it correctly and put in 240v for it. That way you know it's correct. Otherwise you'll likely be on here asking us to troubleshoot why your element isn't getting hot.

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Old 11-09-2012, 09:27 PM   #6
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Thanks for your input. Still not 100% sure why it wouldn't work. If the circuit breakers are right next to each other in the electrical box that means they are on the two different legs just like a 240 circuit breaker right? And if your using a four prong outlet that has a neutral doesn't it? So putting the two hot wires, one to the ssr going to a contactor then the other hot also going to the contactor, that's two 120 lines from different legs making 240. I thought that's how 240 works? I wish I knew how P-J makes those nice schematics cause then I could post one and see what people's thoughts were about it. Maybe I'm not explaining myself well. I'm also not jumping into this without making sure its safe. That's why I posted the question to get feed back.

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Old 11-09-2012, 10:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
trying to figure out the easiest way of doing this
The easiest way would be to do it properly with a dedicated 240 circuit.

Quote:
Maybe I'm not explaining myself well.
I think everyone knows what you want to do and stlbeer told you exactly why it would and wouldn't work.

Quote:
Wiring 2 120v lines from the same circuit will likely overload the breaker for that circuit, be in the same phase and not produce the power you expect.
Wiring 2 120v from 2 separate circuits has a probability of not working because they might be fed from the same phase and thus not capable of producing 240v.
If you can overcome those concerns by making sure they are out of phase it would work. You'll have to gauge how comfortable you are with that type of a setup which I think most would consider a hack at best.
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Old 11-09-2012, 11:12 PM   #8
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Thanks for your input. Still not 100% sure why it wouldn't work. If the circuit breakers are right next to each other in the electrical box that means they are on the two different legs just like a 240 circuit breaker right?
Exactly like a 240 breaker with the exception of the little rod that goes through the holes in the two toggles and ties them mechanically together so that if one phase trips the other does too. In fact if you take two single pole breakers, glue them together and put in this little tie bar you will be hard pressed to tell the difference between the combo and a 240 V 2 pole breaker. So why not just buy a 240V breaker? It should be a GFCI breaker given the application (and that will cost a couple of bucks).

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And if your using a four prong outlet that has a neutral doesn't it? So putting the two hot wires, one to the ssr going to a contactor then the other hot also going to the contactor, that's two 120 lines from different legs making 240. I thought that's how 240 works?
Yes, that's how it works. Look at these symbols: >E The > represents a coil of wire with the left end being the end of the wire. This is hooked to high voltage on the pole. The E represents another coil of wire wound on the same core as the > coil. If the top of the > is positive with respect to the bottom the top wire on the E will be positive with respect to both the middle wire and the bottom wire and the middle wire will be more positive than the bottom wire. If one puts the common lead on an oscilloscope on the middle wire of the E the top wire will appear positive with respect to the middle wire by 120 V (at the peak of a cycle) and at the same instant of time the bottom wire will appear negative with respect to the middle wire by 120V. The top wire will thus be 240 V positive with respect to the bottom wire. In your breaker panel there are bars that run vertically from top to bottom one connected to the top of the E and one to the bottom. The middle is the neutral (and it is bonded to an earth rod at the service connection. Circuit breakers in a given column attach alternately to one bar and the other with double pole breakers attaching to both as noted. This is called a 'biphase' system.


So yes, it will work. I only have one remaining question. What do you think an insurance adjuster standing in the ashes of your house after an electrical fire would have to say about the proposed installation even if it had nothing to do with the actual cause of the fire?
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Old 11-09-2012, 11:16 PM   #9
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I think you would be much better off installing two 2000 watt elements and powering each one from a separate 20 amp circuit. You would just need two SSR's instead of one.
I'm not saying your plan wouldn't work. It could if you use two circuits that were out of phase. I have done my share of "creative" wiring, but this plan makes even me cringe.

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Old 11-09-2012, 11:36 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ddahl84
Thanks for your input. Still not 100% sure why it wouldn't work.
If the explanations so far are not good enough for you to understand why this is a bad idea then I don't think you should be working with electricity at all without a lot more research on your part. You need a better understanding of the functions of electricity before jumping into something like this. Circumventing safety to save cost when dealing with something that can easily kill you is a terrible idea.
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